Democracy of People Against the Government Discussion2020 Writing POLI 1101 Term Papers It takes hard writing to make easy reading. — Robert Louis Stevenson If you have a new idea or an opinion on a social or political issue, then you have an essay in you! What follows is not a comprehensive account of how to prepare and write college-level research papers. If your research and writing skills need work, I strongly suggest you contact the Learning Centre, enroll in a remedial writing course, and/or find extra sources on how to write effective research papers. One of the best sources is The Political Science Writer’s Manual on reserve at the College library. I hope you find the following advice helpful, and that you submit good work. This handout is intended for my political science courses, and students should always consult with instructors concerning their expectations in other courses. Basic Expectations In creating, the only hard thing is to begin. — James Russell Lowell, editor, diplomat, poet The department of political science expects students to engage in quality research and to utilise appropriate academic sources. To this end, the range of suitable academic sources for academic papers must include peer-reviewed materiels. It is expected that students will use 4-5 academic books and 2-3 academic (or peer-reviewed) journal articles. Students may also access newspapers, magazines, and web sites, but they are not “academic” sources. The use of internet information is a challenge: web sites change addresses, submerge into other sites, and sometimes simply disappear. The other concern with internet sources revolves around their accuracy and credibility. It is expected in an academic environment that students will use critical reflection and sound judgment in their choice and use of internet information. A good writer is always considerate of the reader’s needs and provides sound information in a useful manner that gives ample reference to sources. While occasional spelling errors or minor grammatical lapses will not affect the overall grade of your paper, many such mistakes will, and grammatically or conceptually incoherent papers will not pass. The main criteria or standards for grading papers are clarity, conciseness, and coherence – the “Three Cs” – although sentence construction, argumentation, and citation comprise a significant part of the overall grade. Students 1 must make backups and/or photocopies of their course work, which can be submitted in the event an assignment or essay is lost. Essays must use the author-date Chicago style of citation. ● essays will be around 2250-2500 words (excluding the bibliography) ● they will be typed or printed, stapled, with a separate title page using a 12-point font and double-spaced sentences ● they will have at least four to five academic books and two to three scholarly journal articles (or other scholarly sources) in the bibliography; students who rely only on nonacademic sources (e.g., web pages) will automatically fail. ● the author-date Chicago style of citation is required. Papers that have neither in-text citation nor a bibliography will receive a failing grade. Since research papers are formal assignments, students should use third person pronouns such as he, she, one, and they and eliminate the lazy use of pronouns such as this, that, it, and which. Excessive use of this and it proves that students neither seriously edited their papers nor gave much thought and attention to the presentation of their ideas. Another bad habit is the use of contractions such as it’s, don’t, and you’re. Students should not use contractions in formal, academic papers. ● use third person pronouns such as he, she, one, and they ● avoid the excessive use of pronouns such as this, that, it, and which ● do not use contractions such as it’s, don’t, and you’re The Thesis Statement The introduction needs a thesis statement that communicates your main idea, argument, or position you will prove, defend, or illustrate. It is more than just a statement that explains your goal or objective: the thesis statement is a valuable tool for you to focus and provide direction to your paper. A well-argued paper is one in which your main thesis is stated very clearly. If there is no thesis statement then the paper will not receive a passing grade. 2 A thesis statement is not merely a statement of fact. It is an idea, a claim, or an interpretation that others may dispute. It should not be more than a sentence or two. Your task as a writer is to persuade the reader in the body of the paper – through careful use of examples and thoughtful analysis – that your argument is valid. If your introduction is vague and tentative, you have a weak thesis statement. Your next step is to identify the evidence and arguments with which you will support your thesis statement. The main points that will be raised in the body of the essay should be briefly stated in the introductory paragraph so the reader can follow your line of reasoning. Finishing the Assignment Don’t write merely to be understood. Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood. — Robert Louis Stevenson, writer Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. — William Strunk, Jr., writer and editor Critically assessing your own ideas is one of the most difficult tasks involved in writing a paper. You cannot reply to all objections, but it is possible to consider the main objections to your arguments towards the end of the paper. If you have such objections in the back of your mind while writing the paper then your own arguments will be stronger. To edit your work well you need to see the paper as the reader will; you need to distinguish between what you intended to write and what you wrote. Rigorous editing means the paper will be well organised, well written, and well developed, and thus receive a good grade. Most important of all: take pride in your work and you will derive satisfaction from a job well done. ● for online help with grammar, visit www.bootstrapgrammar.ca Students must submit their term papers to Turnitin before submitting their hardcopies to the instructor. Those who do not will receive a grade of 0 for the assignment. 3 Term Paper Evaluation (Sample) Basic Requirements and Presentation Paper length (e.g., approximately 2500 words) Title page (e.g., a proper title, course information) Bibliography (e.g., sources properly presented using Chicago style) Font (e.g., a standard 12-point font) Paragraphs (e.g., double-spaced, indented) Marks /2 /2 /4 /1 /1 /10 Introduction, Thesis Statement, and Topic Thesis statement (e.g., clarity of purpose and direction) Identification of main issues (e.g., clear explanation of basic issues and problems) Definitions (e.g., defined basic concepts and/or terms) Scope (e.g., thesis supportable and appropriate to topic/course) Topic (e.g., comprehension and understanding of subject area) Marks /6 /5 /3 /1 /5 /20 Presentation, Content, and Argumentation Grammar, Spelling and Syntax (e.g., sentences clear, appropriate use of words, literate) Argumentation (e.g., thesis developed, systematic exposition of ideas, coherence) Use of theories, terms, concepts, and principles (e.g., comprehension, appropriate usage) Organisation (e.g., ideas and evidence logically organised, appropriate sentence transitions) Critical analysis (e.g., independent analysis or overly descriptive?) Marks /8 /10 /7 /10 /10 /45 Conclusion and Research (Sources and Citation) Conclusion (e.g., explanation of main points and claims, resolution of issues) Consistency (e.g., conclusion consistent with thesis and argumentation) Research (e.g., located appropriate sources for topic) Sources (e.g., 4-5 books/2-3 academic articles, use and integration) Citation (e.g., proper Chicago style, sufficient citation) Marks /5 /2 /6 /6 /6 /25 Total Numeric Grade Letter Grade Students are encouraged to raise any additional questions with the instructor, but only after they have reviewed their papers in light of the grading criteria above. 4 /100 Term Paper Topics Introduction to Political Science Students are to choose one of the following term paper questions for their term paper. These topics are mandatory – that is, the instructor will not accept papers written on any other topic unless students receive permission beforehand by the instructor. It is also important to note the essay topics below are just that – topics. A topic is not a thesis statement. Students will need to narrow their focus and derive more specific thesis statements. Please see my handout on preparing and writing term papers for further explanation of the thesis statement. Government 1. What roles do municipalities (cities) play in governing? Should local governments (e.g., cities) have greater authority, even constitutional recognition, in Canada? 2. Which is better: a parliamentary or a presidential system? 3. Should Canada replace the monarchy with an elected head of state? Elections/Political Parties 1. Critically evaluate the roles political parties play in organizing political campaigns during elections. 2. Some commentators have begun to critically question the prominence of polling during elections. Examine the use of polling during elections, and critically assess their use. 3. Are regular elections the best way to ensure representatives do their jobs well? What other methods could be used to enhance accountability? 4. Should voting be mandatory? Make a case for or against it. 5. Should Canada’s single-member plurality electoral system be replaced? If so, carefully examine and critically support an alternative. Democracy Page 1 of 3 1. Is representative democracy a justifiable form of democracy? 2. Should extremist political parties be prevented from contesting elections? 3. Is democracy really the best form of government? 4. Is democracy consistent with a class-divided, unequal society? 5. Should democracies be secular? Political Ideology 1. What is the relationship between liberalism and libertarianism? 2. How are communism and socialism different? 3. What are the central principles of modern conservatism? How would you assess its effects on citizens and governance? 4. What does environmentalism have to say about the role of government? 5. Has feminism achieved its political goals in Canada? 6. In what instances and cases is it legitimate for the state to interfere with a citizen’s freedom to live as s/he chooses? Media/Socialization 1. What is the proper role of the mass media in a liberal-democratic society? 2. Should the study of politics and government be required in schools? 3. Why is political participation by citizens important? 4. What effects are social media having on politics and governing? Interest Groups/Social Movements 1. Recent federal laws in Canada have restricted the freedom of interest groups to financially contribute to political parties and their candidates. Are these laws justifiable? 2. Do interest groups enhance or undermine democratic politics? Page 2 of 3 3. What are social movements? Use a case study approach to examine the ways they influence governments. International Governance/Politics 1. Examine the processes of political reform in some country (e.g., Japan, Mexico, Russia, China, South Korea). What reforms were initiated? What were the goals and objectives? Were they achieved? (NOTE: this topic must be limited to governing reforms of the last 20 years). 2. What obligations do Western countries such as Canada have to provide greater development assistance to poor and developing countries? 3. What is political corruption? What can be done to reduce or limit political corruption? Select a specific country for your study. 4. What can governments of poorer countries do to ensure their citizens are wealthier and more prosperous? 5. How can countries that are non-democratic democratize? Do developed democracies have a role to play to support such initiatives? Policy-Making 1. Should the welfare state in Canada be reduced or expanded? 2. What is “privatization?” Should services provided by the public (government) sector be contracted out to private businesses? 3. Have federal and provincial governments properly managed Canada’s natural resources? 4. Critically examine the Canadian federal government’s fiscal and taxation policies. 5. In what ways might global governance support (or challenge) democratic political life in a country like Canada? 6. Critically assess the proposal to provide a guaranteed basic income. 7. Using a case-study and country-specific approach, examine and assess policy responses to terrorism. Page 3 of 3 Mandatory Voting: The Time Has Come Political Science 1101-005 Douglas College Shellie Santolla (0234XXXXX) 7 November 2019 Word Count: 2565 In the most recent Canadian federal election of October 2019, 65.95% of eligible voters cast a ballot. The voter turnout rate for the October 2008 federal election was 58.8%, the lowest in the history of Canadian national elections. Closer review of voter turnout rates reveals the percentage of Canadians voting in federal elections has been declining noticeably since 1993, although the past two elections have seen modest improvement. Has the time come to seriously consider mandatory voting? There was a debate in the Canadian House of Commons in 1891 over mandatory voting, but no legislative response. More recently, the Canadian Senate published a report urging the federal government to implement mandatory voting for national elections. Despite opposition to mandatory voting in Canada, it is not a radical proposal. Many of the world’s democracies, such as Brazil, Greece, and Peru compel their citizens to vote. Mandatory voting should be implemented to ensure Canadian voters are more informed and better represented in our parliaments. …
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